Section Information for Fall 2017
America’s democratic character has long been considered its defining feature – democracy provides the central image for political pageantry and for civic education, as well as the normative framework for policy and governance. But what does it mean to say that America is democratic? To what extent, and in what ways, is America democratic? How has the nature of American democracy changed over time? To answer these questions, we will read widely in the history of American democracy from the founding to the present. Covering topics ranging from elections to the public sphere to the rise of the warfare and welfare states, we will study both the structures of government and the various ways that different groups of Americans have experienced democratic life (i.e., we will look at democracy from the top-down and from the bottom-up). Throughout, we will pay particular attention to recurring controversies in democratic life, seeking lessons for problems that remain with us today in the first year of the Trump administration: the legitimacy of the federal government; the rights of minorities; the quality of public opinion. The course will provide both an overview of modern U.S. political history and an introduction to the interdisciplinary methods historians use to make sense of this complex and controversial subject.
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Enrollment limited to students with a class of Advanced to Candidacy, Graduate, Non Degree or Senior Plus.
Enrollment is limited to Graduate, Non-Degree or Undergraduate level students.
Students in a Non-Degree Undergraduate degree may not enroll.